6 Texting Strategies Churches Are Using to Connect

6 Texting Strategies Churches Are Using to Connect

October 28, 2019 by

Using texting for communication at your church is an often-underrated strategy for contacting members with important information. Statistics show that 98% of text messages are opened, usually within minutes. But knowing that SMS messaging can be a good strategy and knowing how to make the most of it are two different things altogether.

If you’ve been wondering how you’d integrate texting into your communication strategy, here are six real life examples of what one church is doing to make texting a viable part of their communication strategy.

6 Examples of Text Messaging at Church

SMS messaging strategies for churches can be applied no matter what size your congregation is, but for this particular article we talked to Family Church Jamestown, based in New York state, that has a regular attendance of about 300 people.

1. Get Members on Your Text List

Your texting efforts are only as valuable as the amount of people who are actually receiving your texts. If your text list is small, chances are no matter how great your SMS campaigns are, the impact will be limited. That’s why the first step you should take when integrating text messaging into your church is to actually let people know about it.

Here’s what you should do to get started:

  • Have information on how to text to join printed in pamphlets, on screens, and on the website.
  • Verbally engage the congregation. Family Church Jamestown reminded everyone to bring their cell phones to the service so they could sign up for the text list. They did this at least once a month for the first three months.
  • Be consistent. If you have screens, put the information on how to join the text list on a rotating banner that runs before and after services.
  • Put information on how to join the text list on all of your social platforms and where possible include a link to the web opt-in form so that people can take action immediately.
  • Create a standalone web form that people can access from tablets in the lobby where they can enter their information to join the list.
  • Make regular, weekly announcements about the text list.

Here’s an example of the web form that Family Church Jamestown has on their website:

Web form for text subscription

Family Church Jamestown also started printing information about how to sign up for their text list on their welcome cards, which can be signed and dropped in the offering plate. These types of cards contain the proper legal compliance information that is necessary to include when starting a text list—namely, you should let subscribers know how many texts they can expect to receive a month and how to opt out. If you go this route, make sure to keep a hard copy of the cards on file so that you can show, if ever asked to, that people who are on your text list gave consent to be contacted by you via text message.

Using these methods, Family Church Jamestown was able to increase their text subscriber list from zero subscribers to almost 800 in about 24 months.

Subscriber growth over time

2. Send Post-Sermon Reminders

After Family Church Jamestown integrated texting into their overall strategy they started using SMS messaging for more than merely sending out information about where and when the service is. After all, chances are that most people who are on your text list probably know where your church is located, so it’s a good idea to strive to bring greater value.

Some people won’t want to receive words of encouragement or sermon reminders from your pastor, and that’s fine. You can text only people who do want to receive this communication by segmenting your text list.

These text messages can come directly from the pastor and can be challenges, reminders, or just your pastor sharing what is on their heart.

Here are some examples:

  • Don’t forget to have 1 John 5:5 faith today. Whatever you’re facing, you can overcome.
  • What fruits of the spirit have you noticed in your life this week?
  • Be on guard for your spirit’s sake. Speak your faith and meditate consistently in the spirit. Review Isaiah 41:10 and remember that he is our strength.

Sermon reminders should be encouraging and help your congregation live out their faith throughout the week. You can also use them as a platform to springboard into one-on-one messaging—if congregants reply, your pastoral team can start a conversation.

3. Celebrate Birthdays

It feels great when your church family remembers your birthday, doesn’t it? You can easily input the birthday of your members so they’ll automatically be sent a birthday message each year. Make this message as elaborate as you want to.

Statistics show that when a birthday text feature is offered, about 80% to 90% of people sign up for it. This is a great way to add a personal touch to your texting efforts and really make people in the congregation feel like they’re part of a family.

4. Guide New Believers

Family Church Jamestown integrated a special text messaging initiative for people who are newly saved.

It all starts with what they call a “salvation card.” If someone prays for salvation during the service, they are invited to fill out a salvation card and also sign up for a 30-day new believer’s text journey. This is used as a way to guide new believers in their decision and help disciple them, while also hopefully bringing them back through the doors of the church to be connected with a community of believers.

You can set your frequency for how often texts go out to whatever you like—daily, weekly, or at any interval that feels right for your congregation. Family Church Jamestown is sending new believer texts once every two days, for a 30-day period.

The texts can be written by your pastoral team and can guide new believers through a Bible reading plan or give them actionable help in starting their new life with Christ.

5. Prayer Requests

Many churches are starting to launch prayer request initiatives through text message. There are two ways you can do this:

  • During the service: Provide information on how to text your prayer requests on the screen. Let the congregation know that a member of the pastoral team will be reading the requests and the pastoral or prayer team will be praying on them throughout the service and during the week.
  • Throughout the week: You can also remind your congregation that they can text to join the prayer list at any time throughout the week. If your church has weekly prayer meetings, you can add the texted prayer requests to the list. You can also reply to texts to provide encouragement or continuing ministry to those who text in.

6. Bible Study or Devotional Support

In addition to providing post sermon reminders, you can also have your pastoral team provide support for those who are following a particular Bible study—whether that’s in a small group or a church-wide Bible study.

Using the example of Family Church Jamestown, the church decided to do a one-year Bible study challenge. Those in the church who wanted to participate are reading one book per month, along with the lead pastor.

The church has a separate text list for people who are participating in the challenge. If the pastor feels led to talk about something specifically while they’re reading each week, they’ll send a mass text message out to those who are on the list. Here’s what one of those text messages looks like from inside the SMS platform:

Sample text message

Get Creative With Your Text Messages

One of the great things about using text messaging for your church is that there is no spam folder. You can be reasonably sure that people will receive your text messages—and possibly even respond! Think about how you can provide value with each text message initiative you launch. Value might be defined differently depending on what segment of your congregation you’re messaging, but the more you can think beyond text messages that merely share information (although those have their place) the more you’ll be able to take advantage of the potential in text messaging.

Post By:

Matt Baglia

Matt is the co-founder and CEO of SlickText, a company that uses text messaging to increase connectivity for organizations of all sizes.
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